Ready for the New Science of Exoplanet Study? Europe’s CHEOPS Is

An exciting new era is about to begin in space exploration. Jonathan O’Callaghan wrote about it in Nature magazine, in an article published on December 16 of last year, and shared in Scientific American online. As O’Callaghan wrote, “The European Space Agency (ESA) is set to launch a first-of-its-kind exoplanet telescope, which will perform detailed studies of hundreds of known worlds beyond the Solar System. The mission heralds a shift from missions designed to discover such planets—some 4,000 of which have now been found—to those intended to learn about them in detail, say astronomers. Called CHEOPS (Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite), the 300-kilogram, €50-million (US$55-million) spacecraft is scheduled for launch on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on 17 December,” O’Callaghan wrote. “It will be placed into orbit 700 kilometers above Earth, where its main instrument will point constantly towards our planet’s night side so that its view of space is uninterrupted by sunlight.”

He quoted Kate Isaak, a project scientist on the mission at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, who told him, “We’re moving from discovery [of exoplanets] to characterization. With CHEOPS we’ll be able to answer the question of how small planets, in particular, form.”

As O’Callaghan noted, “Equipped with a single camera, CHEOPS will peer at stars around which exoplanets are already known to orbit. Through the transit method—observing the dip in the brightness of a star’s light as a planet passes in front of it—astronomers will use CHEOPS to work out the sizes of these worlds and study some of their atmospheres, providing crucial information on the formation and evolution of a variety of exoplanets. Over its 3.5-year scientific mission, which will begin in April 2020, the telescope will study between 300 and 500 worlds.”

All of this is particularly exciting because CHEOPS is the first space telescope designed to study planets. It will target known exoplanets that will range from Earth-sized planets to those approaching the size of Neptune. This initiative represents a new phase in scientific exploration, and scientists can’t wait to find out what’s out there.

Meanwhile, back on earth, lots of new things are being learned these days across the U.S. healthcare delivery system as well. As our healthcare system makes the challenging, awkward shift from volume-based payment to value-based payment, the strategic, operational, clinical, and technological landscape of U.S. healthcare is changing rapidly now.

And in order to capture what’s been happening out there, we, the editors of Healthcare Innovation, have executed our first-ever State of the Industry Survey. Hundreds of our readers, representing hospitals, medical groups, and health systems, participated in our online survey, and shared where their organizations were and are, around healthcare IT infrastructure development, participation in value-based contracting, clinical and operational transformation and performance improvement, cybersecurity, and other major subjects.

In addition, we’ve interviewed industry leaders, who’ve shared their important perspectives on what the survey results mean, and where our industry is headed, in the next few years—and, significantly, the challenges and opportunities involved. Where is all this headed? And, very importantly, what will the pace of change be like? Please turn to our cover story to find out. But what’s clear is that the future will be different from the past, just as our understanding of exoplanets will be different from the understanding of our galaxy that we’ve had until now.

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